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Member call to action activated on charter school expansion

It is important that MSTA members contact their state representatives and ask them to oppose HB581. This will be a very close vote, and education professionals deserve to have a voice in education policy in Missouri. This harmful legislation regarding charter school expansion will soon be debated by the members of the House of Representatives.  HB581 (Roeber) would expand the charter school model of school governance to any district in the state.  Currently charter schools only operate in the St. Louis and Kansas City school districts.

This bill would create two separate systems of public education that would further strain taxpayer resources to meet the needs of Missouri’s school children.  Current charter schools have had mixed results in the 19 years since the charter school model has been in existence in Missouri, with more than one-third of charter schools closing their doors. More than $620 million of Missouri tax dollars has been spent on failed charter schools — money that was spent without oversight or accountability from local communities.

Local control is vital to the success and accountability of public education.  HB581 silences local communities regarding public education.

  This legislation is not in line with MSTA Adopted Resolutions.  MSTA members have made clear that charter school expansion should only be granted by the locally elected school board.  An appeal process or right of first refusal that replaces the voice of Missouri citizens does not protect Missouri’s students or taxpayers.

MSTA opposes charter school expansion without local community input, oversight, and authorization by locally elected school boards.

Change to school start date passes House

HB161 & 401 (Knight) was narrowly passed by the House this week.  The bill would remove flexibility for locally elected school boards to determine their school start date.  Under current state law a district may start school more than 10 days prior to the first Monday in September if the school board gives public notice, holds a public meeting to discuss the proposal and approves the calendar.  The local school board must follow this procedure for any year in which the district would like to start 10 days prior to the first Monday in September.

Under the bill, beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, no school district may set an opening date any earlier than 14 calendar days prior to the first Monday in September.

The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.

Literacy bills heard in both House and Senate committees

Similar bills dealing with improving student literacy were heard this week in the Senate Government Reform Committee and the House Special Committee on Student Accountability.

The committee heard hours of testimony from students and parents that are dealing with dyslexia and how the school worked with them to put in place interventions to help them with their reading.

SB349 (O’Laughlin) and HB464 (Kelley) require each local school district and charter school to have a policy on file for reading intervention plans for any pupils of the district in grades kindergarten through four, rather than through grade three. The authority to develop guidelines to assist school districts and charter schools in formulating policies for reading intervention plans is transferred from the State Board of Education to local school districts. Each school district and charter school is required to administer a reading assessment or set of assessments to each student within the first 30 days of school for grades one through four, and by January 31 for kindergarten.

School districts and charter schools will be required to offer a reading intervention program to each K-4 student who exhibits a reading deficiency or has a formal diagnosis of dyslexia. The reading intervention program shall be provided in addition to the core reading instruction provided to all students.  Any K-4 student who exhibits a deficiency in reading at any time, based upon local or statewide screening assessments, shall receive an individual reading intervention plan no later than thirty days after the identification of the deficiency. Such plan shall be created by the teacher and other pertinent school personnel and must describe the evidence-based reading improvement services the student shall receive.

The bill requires that structured literacy reading programs will be provided to any student with a formal diagnosis of dyslexia or for a student that was found to be at risk for dyslexia in the statewide dyslexia screening.

Finally, the bill requires the board of each school district and charter school to post, by September 1 of each year, by building, the number and percentage of all students in grades 3-8 scoring at each proficiency level on the English language arts statewide assessment; by building, the number and percentage of all students in grades 3-8 in each demographic category scoring proficiency level on the English language arts statewide assessment; by district, the number and percentage of all students in grades 3-8 scoring at each proficiency level on the English language arts statewide assessment; and by district, the number and percentage of all students in grades 3-8 in each demographic category scoring at each proficiency level on the English language arts statewide assessment.

MSTA opposed these bills because they reduce local control by setting forth mandates for many of the programs required under the bill. 

House Committee Continues work on FY2020 budget

The House Budget Committee is putting the finishing touches on their proposed budget so the full House can debate the budget when the legislature returns from their spring break.

This week the Committee unveiled proposed changes from the budget that was submitted by Governor Mike Parson.  Those changes include:

Reducing the increase for school transportation to $5 million (the Governor had proposed a $10 million increase)

  • Adding $150,000 for a K-3 reading assessment
  • Adding $150,000 for the Missouri Scholars and Fine Arts Academies
  • Reducing computer science professional development programs by $150,000 (this would still have an increase of $300,000)
  • Adding $700,000 for School Safety Grants
  • Eliminating $829,203 for first-time takers of the HiSET test

The House version of the budget does include an additional $61 million to fully fund the foundation formula as well as an additional $3.1 million for Parents as Teachers.

The House Budget Committee will work next week to finalize their work on the budget by working on amendments that committee members may have.  Once that is finalized the budget will head to the House floor for debate before moving to the Senate.

Bill Summaries


General Laws

HB745 (Ruth) requires courts to notify school administrators of any change in a child’s custody within one business day of the change and for the school to acknowledge the notification within one business day.

Elementary and Secondary Education

HB606 (Basye) modifies criminal background checks of school bus drivers to include those drivers employed by municipalities or any other entity under contract with a school district. The bill authorizes school boards to contract with municipalities to transport high school children. The contract must require the presence of an adult supervisor approved by the school board on any municipal vehicle transporting school children. While transporting school children, municipal vehicles shall include seating designated solely for school children.

HB857 (Deaton) states that any public school that participates in any activity sponsored by the Missouri State High School Activities Association must provide home school students who reside in their attendance area with the opportunity to participate in activities in the same manner as the students enrolled in the school. Home school students who participate or seek to participate are subject to the same registration, age limit, fees, insurance, transportation, physical condition, qualifications, responsibilities, event schedules, standards of behavior, and performance requirements as enrolled students. The person who provides home school instruction to the student must certify that the student is receiving a passing grade in each course and is maintaining satisfactory advancement. The association cannot prohibit a home school student from participating.

Executive Session

HB485 (Dogan) requires that the State Board of Education shall adopt modified accreditation standards for special school districts (SSD) to reflect the educational needs of SSD students by July 1, 2020. Voted do pass.

HCS/HB924 (Razer) changes provisions relating to charter schools. The bill limits a sponsor of a charter school that fails to receive renewal of its charter after the three-year term shall not sponsor any new charter schools until the State Board of Education has determined that the sponsor was in compliance for any charter school it sponsored at the time a charter school failed to receive renewal. The bill creates a student mobility ratio for districts as a calculation of the number of students withdrawing for reasons other than academic promotion over the total number of students. The bill states that an underperforming school includes those in which the percentage of the charter school’s students who perform proficient and advanced on the annual statewide system of assessments in English language arts and mathematics is lower than the average percentage of grade-level-equivalent students in district in which it is located who perform proficient and advanced in English language arts and mathematics. This bill requires student mobility ratio to be calculated annually by Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for charter schools and the districts in which charter schools are located. If the student mobility ratio is higher than the districts in 2 of 3 years then the charter governing board and sponsor shall amend the performance contract, review enrollment and counseling practices, and implement a remedial plan to be approved by the State Board of Education.  Voted do pass with committee substitute.

HCS/HB739 (Miller) requires a district or charter school to disclose to any public school that contacts a former employee with information regarding any violation of the published regulations of the board of education of the district or the governing body of the charter school by the former employee if such violation related to sexual misconduct with a student and was determined to be an actual violation by the board of the district or the governing body of the charter school after a contested case due process hearing conducted pursuant to board policy. The bill requires school districts and charter schools to contact DESE regarding any former districts in which an employee worked.  The bill also requires districts to provide trauma-informed, developmentally-appropriate sexual abuse training to students in all grades not lower than sixth grade.  Training would be required for all school board members with information on identifying signs of sexual abuse in children and danger signals of potentially abusive relationships between children and adults. The training shall emphasize how to establish an atmosphere of trust so that students feel their school has concerned adults with whom students can feel comfortable discussing matters related to abuse. Voted do pass with committee substitute.

Special Committee on Student Accountability

HB464 (Kelley) Requires each local school district and charter school to have on file a policy for reading success plans for certain students.  See related story.

HB570 (Ruth) beginning in the 2020-21 school year a district shall not be required to make up hours lost due to exceptional or emergency circumstances provided that the district has an alternative methods of instruction plan approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The district must notify students and parents if the alternative method of instruction plan is being implemented for the day and provide assignments either in hard copy or electronic form. A district may only use the plan for up to 45 hours per school year. The bill outlines what the alternative methods of the instruction plan application must contain.  MSTA testified in support.

Executive Session

HB476 (Bailey) creates a state treasury fund entitled Bryce’s Law Scholarship Fund to receive money appropriated by the General Assembly as well as other fund sources. The amount of moneys to be deposited annually into the Bryce’s Law Scholarship Fund by the General Assembly shall be determined by multiplying the estimated number of scholarships that will be awarded during the fiscal year by the special education state adequacy target.  The bill also directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish a grant program to award grants from the fund to scholarship granting organizations. A committee substitute for the bill was defeated and a do pass motion failed.

HB112 (Sommer) requires school districts to establish a state-approved gifted program if three percent or more of the students are determined to be gifted. Districts with average daily attendance of 350 or fewer students are not required to have a teacher certificated to teach gifted education, but any teacher providing gifted instruction without a gifted-teaching certificate must participate in six hours per year of professional development regarding gifted services. Voted do pass.


Government Reform

SB349 (O’Laughlin) Requires each local school district and charter school to have a policy for reading intervention plans for any pupils in grades kindergarten through four.  See earlier story. MSTA testified in opposition.

SB271 (Emery) under current law, the State Board of Education is responsible for determining the eligibility of charter schools within provisionally accredited districts and approving or denying applications for a charter school. The Board is also responsible for ensuring charter school compliance with federal and state law regulating charter schools, and for evaluating sponsor compliance every three years. The Board has current authority to impose corrective action for noncompliance, remove sponsorship authority, and to reauthorize charter sponsor authority. The bill transfers these duties to the Missouri Charter Public School Commission.

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